Can I Get a Hug? Part II

The governor says he wants to meet with Obama in Tampa on Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist embrace during a town hall meeting to discuss the economy, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009, at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

    Super Bowl XLIV might be the biggest game in town, but the best betting opportunity might happen just up the road later this week.

    That's when President Barack Obama and Gov. Charlie Crist are expected to meet in Tampa for the first time publicly since the infamous "man hug" that shook the Republican Party to its foundation.

    Now, pundits are wondering just how Crist will greet the POTUS.

    Will it be Man Hug Part II? What if the two choreographed a fist pump session a la "The Jersey Shore" to appeal to the younger crowd? Michelle Obama already has dibs on the fist bump so Crist can't pull that one because of originality concerns.

    Maybe a high-flying chest bump between two avid sports fans? Hmmmm. All eyes will be on those first few moments. But first, Crist has to meet with Obama.

    "If we can work it out logistically, I'll be with him,'' Crist said Tuesday.
     

    Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be at a town hall at the University of Tampa on Thursday. Obama is expected to announce that Florida is receiving federal stimulus money for high-speed rail projects, which has been one of Crist's pet projects.

    Nearly a year ago, Crist stood side-by-side with Obama to announce he was excited about the President's vaunted stimulus plan, which most Republican governors turned their backs on. Then came "The Hug."

    Crist has been regretting that moment ever since. His chief rival for the U.S. Senate seat, Marco Rubio, has used photos of "The Hug" to paint the governor as a closet Democrat. It's resulted in a massive shift in the polls, with Crist going from a shoe-in to playing catch up. Crist now trails Rubio, according to a recent survey

    Last year, Crist had a chance to meet up with Obama during a visit in Miami, but he told reporters he had no clue his hug buddy was in town. Then he tried to backpedal on the stimulus hand out he received.

    So Thursday will provide another twist in this saga of how to greet a man from the other side of the political aisle.

    Depending on how much Obama says is coming our way might determine just how intense a greeting he gets from the U.S. Senate hopeful. Considering all that's happened to Crist since the last encounter, he probably really needs a hug.

    We still wouldn't bet on it.